Non Surgical Treatment For Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are abnormal or enlarged veins on legs and feet that can take many forms. Some tiny veins may often branch like tree or shrub are called spider or thread veins. Large, flat greenish veins are known as reticular veins. Varicose veins can be caused by increased pressure in the lower body due to prolonged standing and walking. It is very common in humans and for most of them they are simply of a cosmetic concern or can cause aching pain and discomfort for some people. It may also lead to more serious problems and may have higher risk of other circulatory problems. They can affect one or both legs and may also extend from the groin region to the ankle on front or back side of the legs or even both.
Varicose veins can occur due to improper functioning of the veins. Veins have one way valves that prevent blood from flowing backward and if these valves fail, blood starts collecting in the veins and gets enlarged instead of continuing towards the heart. The veins in the legs are the farthest from the heart so gravity makes it harder for the blood to flow upward. Some causes for varicose veins include:
· Prolonged standing and walking
Some of the symptoms and signs of the varicose veins are:
· Dark purplish or bluish veins (due to spider veins)
· Painful or heavy feelings in legs
· Burning or throbbing in legs
· Muscle cramping and swelling in the lower legs
· Itching around the veins
· Bleeding from varicose veins
· Discoloration of the skin
· Painful cord in the vein
· Hardening of the vein or inflammation of the skin
· Skin inflammation or skin ulcers near ankle (indicating a serious form of vascular disease.
Varicose veins have rare complications that may include:
· Ulcers – long term fluids buildup in the tissues near the ankles are caused due to increased pressure of blood within the affected veins causes painful ulcers that requires immediate medical attention
· Blood clots – any sudden swelling in the leg may call for urgent medical attention as it can indicate a blood clot. This condition is called thrombophlebitis
· Bleeding – veins that are close to the skin may burst and can call for medical attention
Doctor may perform some physical examination to check any pain or swelling while the patient is in standing position or may also perform ultrasound to see if the valves in the veins are functioning normally or if there is any sign of blood clots. With proper assessment and advance therapies, varicose veins can be treated by non invasive or minimally invasive procedures that replace the need of surgery. Non invasive procedure doesn’t involve surgical tools that cut the skin to enter the body whereas minimally invasive procedure involves tiny incisions in the skin.
Some types of minimal or non-invasive procedures for treating varicose veins may include:
Sclerotherapy – In this, doctor injects a special chemical called sclerosant into varicose veins to damage and scar the internal lining of the vein which causes the vein to close. After injecting the sclerosant, pressure is applied over the veins to prevent the blood from flowing backward. Patient may need to wear compression stockings for some days or even weeks to maintain the pressure. The sclerotherapy injection may cause some pain or burning sensation for few minutes at the injection site. This procedure is done as an outpatient basis and can take 5 to 30 minutes depending on the size and numbers of varicose veins to be treated. In minimally invasive procedure, doctor injects special chemical called sclerosant with a catheter to the affected vein with the guidance of duplex ultrasound.
Radiofrequency ablation – radio waves also known as radiofrequency energy are transmitted through the vein wall. Affected vein will be numbed and doctor will use ultrasound to see inside the leg to pass a wire catheter along the vein to apply radiofrequency energy along the vein wall which will eventually heat up and contract to be reabsorbed by the body and disappear. This may take few weeks or months to show the results.
Endovenous laser ablation – this procedure is similar to radiofrequency ablation but in this doctor uses laser energy rather than radiofrequency energy. Laser fiber is inserted into the catheter and given in the affected area which causes the vessel to close by heat. The vein will shrink and reabsorbed by the body eventually. To treat the deeper veins of the leg, radiofrequency and laser therapy are used most often.
After the treatment, patient’s legs would be wrapped with bandages for some days to control swelling and bleeding. Patient will be advised to avoid any strenuous exercise at least for a week or two. Doctor will recommend some pain killers and may also recommend avoiding hot baths etc.
Although noninvasive treatments are safe but still involve some risks that may include:
· Adverse reaction to anesthesia
· Inflammation or swelling